Day 1,876 – Thankful for Dominic’s Courage to Do Anything

Dominic is starting to work on his Eagle Scout project. The potential project includes creating a dog park in our neighborhood. The first step before he can even put his proposal together is to ask all the nearby home owners if they would be okay with that.

No worries, Dominic just put on his Scout uniform, grabbed his notepad, and started knocking on doors. How wild is that? Even better, he doesn’t know who more than half the people are! Dominic is basically going out and doing cold calls voluntarily in support of a good cause.

That simple action makes me so proud. It’s be so easy to take the easy way out and find a different project, use a over, or some other form of communication. Nope, he’s grabbing the bull by the horns and has received some tremendous feedback already.

One more reason I’m proud of Dominic, he understands that some of the best things in life lay well beyond the point of discomfort. Never give in to fear when courage is the right answer.

Super proud of you dude! Love you bud!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,873 – Thankful for Walking Meditation and Stillness in the Woods

Rather than boarding a flight to an ocean beach I was wandering the woods in the snow. Quite the contrast, right? I was exactly where I should be.

Becky and I spent most of our morning at Pike’s Peak outside of MacGregor, Iowa. Due to the cold weather and snowfall we were amongst the few in the entire park. Once we were more than 100 yards from the observation area we never saw another soul.

I drew in breaths of fresh autumn air through my nose and concentrated on soaking in each exquisite little detail of the sights and sensations around me. The bright red leaves and even more scarlet berries of one type of plant. The drops of water resting on the waxy underside of oak leaves. Each little “brick” in the elaborate lattice work of the limestone rock outcroppings. The sensation of the cool winter-ish breeze and snow rushing against my face and tickling the hairs of my beard. The lighting of the woods shifting and transforming as the sun danced amongst the clouds. The music of Becky’s voice as we shared our joys of the wilderness. Each step. Each breath. Each individual second. Pure magic, pure joy.

Our morning was spent in a walking meditation in the stillness of the woods. Exactly where I was called to be in those moments.

If this were my last day I would go peacefully, full of joy, fully satisfied, and with a heart full of love. Today I have lived.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,870 – Thankful for Taking a Moment to Focus and Another Proud Dad Moment

Today was a day full of action and activity. Progress was made on many projects, there was a lot of forward motion, and even the things that didn’t work out actually kind of worked out. Everything seemed to go in the right direction, even if it was initially off a little.

There was one specific moment in the morning when I realized my head was spinning. It was difficult to keep a single thought in mind for a second, let alone through completion. I realized the spinning and stopped.

I put on my headphones. I moved away from my computer. I turned on a specific song and then set my phone down on the other side of my office. I sat in my chair and got into a comfortable position. I put my hands behind my head. I closed my eyes. I focused on my breath. I focused on each lyric of the song. I paused my brain and put myself 100% into the moment.

When the song finished I took in one last deep and focused breath. I held it for a moment, and then exhaled. I opened my eyes and smiled.

My world was at peace and I was able to focus on one task after another. Three minutes and forty five seconds which made all the difference today.

At Dominic’s soccer banquet tonight he received an All Conference award for Sportsmanship:

I am so proud of him! His coach recognized and nominated him for this award for the way he plays, owns his mistakes, celebrates others, shows kindness to opponents, and for his attitude. All comments that make me one heck of a proud parent. Congrats dude!!!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,861 – Thankful for a New Trail to an Old Lookout

Day 1,861 – Thankful for a New Trail to an Old Lookout

After church and lunch Becky and I headed out for a hike. The weather was perfect and we both felt compelled to get both fresh air and a little exercise. Becky had noticed that there was a new trail opening this past week in Hixon so that was our destination.

The trail itself was certainly brand new. They had just knocked it our not too long ago and the smell of soil was fresh in the air. The path itself was nice and soft as it hadn’t been packed down by many travelers yet. Most of the trails in that area have been traveled many times by us, it was awesome being in an area we were unfamiliar with. Each new twist and turn showed us sights we hadn’t seen before. The autumn colors were fantastic and the rock formations we had not seen prior were very interesting. All in all, it was great taking a new path.

As it worked its way up to the top we re-connected with a trail that leads to a scenic overlook. We’ve been up there before, but it was a long time ago. The views of La Crosse may be amongst the best from anywhere in the city. We were able to see the power plant in Genoa a little less than 20 miles away. All along the valley we saw the various colors of leaves in the trees. Throw in the perfectly picturesque clouds and it was nothing short of beautiful.

Ahh… time in nature. There’s not much else in life I’d rather be doing, especially with my family and friends.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,857 – Thankful for Scenic Hiking Side Trips

Day 1,857 – Thankful for Scenic Hiking Side Trips

Becky had a brilliant idea for our trip to Madison this morning. She grabbed her Wisconsin State Parks map and found a couple parks we’ve never explored just off the beaten path we were traveling.

Talk about enjoying the journey and not just the destination!

Nothing like almost empty state parks early on a fall morning shortly after the sunrise. Fresh and crisp autumn air, a cool breeze, and the smell of forests and leaves were all around us as we saw beautiful vistas and fantastic rock formations.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,854 – Thankful for a Filling in the Gap and Gavin’s Cheering Section

Day 1,854 – Thankful for a Filling in the Gap and Gavin’s Cheering Section

My first reaction to seeing the schedule for Gavin’s soccer games in Eau Claire today was a very loud sigh. An 8am game in Eau Claire meant waking up at 5am to get there on time. The 2:40pm game meant a 5 hour gap in between games when we’re 90 minutes from home. That seemed like the worst possible schedule to me. An entire Sunday of soccer, well over 12 hours away from home. Then I took a deep breath and remembered to appreciate the time rather than wish it away.

Becky had a perfect idea to fit in between our games. We drove a half hour west towards Menomonie and did some hiking. The trails were stunningly beautiful with so many colorful leaves drifting slowly to the earth. The sun caught each in just the right light and it made for a stunningly unreal sight:

Afterwards she had the idea for pizza at the Lucette Brewery, the place we ate for Kala & Dylan’s wedding reception a little while back. The wood fired pizza was THE BEST pizza I’ve ever had – dee-lish!!!

We headed back to Eau Claire, ran a couple of errands and then headed back to the field. Rather than being a terrible schedule it became an opportunity to spend more time with my family enjoying the types of things we enjoy doing. It was the perfect way for us to fill the gap in the schedule and looking back I wouldn’t change a thing.

At the second game Gavin had his own cheering section! Becky’s parents and the Hause family all showed up to support Gavin and his team. It was obviously a success as Gavin’s team won the match 3-1. Pretty awesome to have an extra cheering section 🙂

Thanks!!!

Day 1,833 – Thankful for the Simplicity of Nature and Hiking the Ridges

Day 1,833 – Thankful for the Simplicity of Nature and Hiking the Ridges

I have a tendency to make life so much more complex than it needs to be. Busy schedules, technology, financial management, business, and so on. There is so much I pack into life that is unnecessary and self imposed.

In the woods everything fades away. The noise of daily life is muted by the simplicity of existing in nature. Trees who’ve stood before I was born demand my attention. The rocks and hills I observe have existed long before man walked the Earth will remain long after I’m gone. The sounds of the streams provide a more beautiful music than any I would play on my iPhone. Everything I need is there in the woods, in the simplicity, and in that exact moment.

In that moment all of the busyness of life fades from existence. There are no deadlines and tasks, only serenity and wonder. My ego is replaced with the reminder of how small and temporary my life is compared to so much of what exists around me. I am lost in the moment at the very time I find my true self in the woods.

The simplicity of nature surrounding me is deafening.

Today that simplicity was shared with Becky and Gavin (Dominic was refereeing soccer games). The ridges we hiked were so amazing. I could bring a hammock and backpack and stay up there for days. The peacefulness provides a profound state of chill and introspection while my wonder and curiosity often lead me off the trail to observe interesting plants, rocks, and tree roots. Those heavily canopied maple and oak forests are some of the most magical places in the Driftless.

My soul is full.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,819 – Thankful for Sports as a Tool for Growth

This last week included a grand total of seven soccer games for the Kreiling family. Dominic had three varsity games and Gavin had four games in Madison. All soccer, all weekend.

For sure, I had a great time watching them both play. It’s always fun watching my boys doing something they are passionate about.

What I’m specifically grateful for today is the way sports helps them learn to be better leaders and adults. Throughout both of their games they did some things with extreme excellence and they both made mistakes. Regardless of the action, they learned and grew from the experience.

Both learned some priceless and timeless leadership lessons I hope they draw from throughout their lives.

For sure, sports won’t be their careers. That said, their sports experiences are helping them grow and mature into the leaders they can be. Seeing glimpses of that growth over the past week have been awesome!!

Thanks!!

Day 1,809 – Thankful for the Journey of Writing with Dad

As the pieces come together on my writing I’m continually grateful for this journey. Losing Dad was the most difficult time of my life to date. The pain can still be raw at times. I often wish for an opportunity to have a few more minutes with him, another conversation, or another hug. The sense of loss will never leave my soul.

What’s interesting is that the more I write the more my thoughts shift from loss to gratitude for the time I had with Dad. So many wonderful moments, memories, and experiences with him. I am so fortunate to have had Dad in my life.

The more I write the more memories come back. The more I write those memories down the more memories that also rise up to the surface. And so it goes.

In many ways this journey has brought me closer to Dad. I’m seeing more clearly the impact he’s had on my life and the legacy I hope to leave my boys. As I write I’m seeing the good and the bad, what I’d love to grow into and the gaps I need to cross.

LOL – my hair, his mustache… two things we’d both like to forget 😉

All the while I know Dad is with me in this journey. I can feel him supporting and guiding me. We do this together. It isn’t my story I am writing, it is our story we’re writing. Each step is a smile, a discovery, a lesson, and a moment I’m grateful for.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,801 – Thankful for a Normal-ish First Day of School Pic

For the third time today I can’t help but chuckle as I remember that it can be so difficult to be thankful and appreciative for something until it is gone. There are so many things in life I’ve taken for granted and have only noticed once they were removed. The appreciation is so much easier afterwards as I can start to more fully grasp the impact that was made by it.

The first day of school is one of those things. When I was cruising back through some old pictures I came across many first day of school pictures until I got to 2020. There weren’t any. I paused and asked Becky if I was looking in the right place. She reminded me that they were non-existent as they were schooling online. Crazy! How quickly I forget. Then I paused and remembered just how special these first day of school pics are.

Each year this is a day when there is almost guaranteed to be a photo of both the boys side by side. Just like the rings in the tree we can se the growth of the boys by looking back through the old first day of school pics. For instance, here’s 2015 on the left and 2021 on the right:

The way these boys have grown blows my mind! It is difficult for me to grasp just how quickly they’ve grown in such a short period of time.

What made these year even crazier was their ride to school. No bus for these boys for their first day. They loaded up into their car and Dominic drove them to school. Peace out school bus, hello freedom through personal transportation!

I’m thankful for getting back into the habit of the first day of school pics even though I’m suddenly feeling way older than I did when I woke up today 😉

Thanks!!!